Celtics stuck in limbo without Clippers trade

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If the Celtics-Clippers trade is indeed dead – and like Kurt, I have my doubts – the offseason doesn’t get any easier for the Celtics. Boston is obviously ready to move on from Kevin Garnett and Doc Rivers, at least if it nets a certain combination of DeAndre Jordan, Eric Bledsoe and first-round picks and the removal of Jason Terry or Courtney Lee.

But has bringing back Rivers and Garnett become preferable to the next alternative, whatever that is?

This trade could have determined the Celtics’ entire direction as a franchise. Now, Boston must regroup and evaluate its course. Persuade Rivers, who’s obviously leery of rebuilding, to come back? Convince Garnett, who’s considering retirement, to make another run? Keep Pierce, trade him or buy out his partially guaranteed contract?

The catalyst seems to be Rivers, and the Celtics are making their preference clear. Baxter Holmes of The Boston Globe:

That’s a risky choice, because Rivers could face difficulties coaching players who just received a clear indicator Rivers doesn’t want to coach them. But he’s also a highly respected coach whose best attribute is building relationships with his players.

Of course, Rivers also has a say in whether he’ll coach the Celtics next season. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports:

After talks in a blockbuster deal fall apart over draft pick compensation, Doc Rivers is unsure about returning to the Boston Celtics as coach, league sources told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday.

The Celtics and Rivers planned to reach a final resolution in the next few days, sources said.

As one source tied to Boston ownership and Rivers said, “You don’t just move on from this and act like nothing happened.”

If Rivers returns, the Celtics should probably push for Garnett and Pierce to return. Once Rajon Rondo gets healthy, that’s likely a team still capable of winning a playoff series, and that would be a fairly satisfying season. Rebuilding can always wait a year.

If Rivers sits out next season, hoping Garnett retires from his big contract and then buying out or trading Pierce might become a better plan. That would give the Celtics flexibility to rebuild around Rondo and Jeff Green, but that plan would work work much better with DeAndre Jordan and an extra first-round draft pick in tow.

That’s why the Celtics have incentive to re-engage the Clipper in trade talks. The alternatives without it just aren’t as appealing and will require some difficult decisions.

Victor Oladipo’s practice dunk better than anything he – or maybe anyone – did in dunk contest (video)

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Victor Oladipo has grown into far more than just a dunker.

In fact, in Saturday’s dunk contest, he didn’t look like a dunker at all.

The Pacers star missed all three attempts of his first dunk, and a Black Panther mask was by far the biggest draw of his second. Oladipo was eliminated after the first round.

Maybe Dennis Smith Jr. wasn’t the only eliminated dunker who left something in his bag. This Oladipo dunk – 180 degrees, throwing ball off the backboard with his left hand while in mid-air, dunking with his right hand – while preparing in Los Angeles was awesome.

Larry Nance Jr. had the contest’s best dunk. This would have rivaled it.

Pelicans owner Tom Benson hospitalized with flu symptoms

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METAIRIE, La. (AP) — New Orleans Saints and Pelicans Owner Tom Benson has been hospitalized with flu symptoms.

A statement released Wednesday by the NFL and NBA clubs says their 90-year-old owner is resting comfortably at Ochsner Medical Center, a hospital which also serves as a major sponsor and which owns naming rights to the teams’ training headquarters.

Benson has owned the New Orleans Saints since 1985 and bought the New Orleans Pelicans in 2012.

In recent years, Benson has overhauled his estate plan so that his third wife, Gayle, would be first in line to inherit control of the two major professional franchises.

 

Report: Seattle hosting Kings-Warriors preseason game

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Kevin Durant spent his rookie season in Seattle, before the SuperSonics moved to Oklahoma City and became the Thunder. He has said Seattle fans deserved to see him grow up in the NBA after supporting his promising start.

They’ll get their chance.

Ailene Voisin of The Sacramento Bee:

The Kings and Golden State Warriors have scheduled a preseason game next season in Seattle, according to multiple league sources.

The Oct. 6 meeting between Northern California teams will be the first NBA game in the Key Arena since the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City after the 2007-08 season and became the Thunder.

This game will be loaded with storylines. Not only Durant, but the Kings considered moving to Seattle a few years ago. And of course, the return of NBA basketball to Seattle.

At some point, Seattle will get its own team again. For now, this preseason game creates intrigue there.

Report: Kawhi Leonard cleared medically, seeking second opinion

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Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said he’d be surprised if Kawhi Leonard played again this season, a stark reversal from just a month ago. Back then, even while announcing Leonard was out indefinitely with a quad injury, the San Antonio coach said Leonard wouldn’t miss the rest of the season.

What’s going on?

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

After spending 10 days before the All-Star break in New York consulting with a specialist to gather a second opinion on his right quad injury, All-NBA forward Kawhi Leonard bears the burden of determining when he’s prepared to play again, sources told ESPN.

Leonard has been medically cleared to return from the right quad tendinopathy injury, but since shutting down a nine-game return to the Spurs that ended Jan. 13, he has elected against returning to the active roster, sources said.

The uncertainty surrounding this season — and Leonard’s future which could include free agency in the summer of 2019 — has inspired a palpable stress around the organization, league sources said.

At first glance, this sounds like Derrick Rose five years ago. Even after he was cleared to play following a torn ACL, the then-Bulls star remained mysterious about when he’d suit up. His confidence in his physical abilities seemed to be a major issue, and he was never the same player since (suffering more leg injuries).

But the Spurs famously favor resting players to preserve long-term health. They seem unlikely to rush back Leonard. They might even sit players who want to play more often. And Leonard isn’t Rose.

Still, it’s clear something is amiss in San Antonio. Maybe not amiss enough to end Leonard’s tenure there, but the longer this lingers, the more time for tension to percolate.